05 Feb How to Gain Control of your Out of Control Dog
I can’t say it enough. Control is the absolute first step in the training process. Without control we can’t train. When a teacher has a classroom full of students she gains control of them by having them sit in their assigned seats. Now she has them under control she can effectively and efficiently teach them. I see so many people trying to train their dog without gaining any form of control first which make the process way more difficult and 10 times as long. A leash on a dog is control. 2 leashes on a dog is double the control and that’s what I’ll be going over today.
The technique I’ll be breaking down has become one of my staple techniques in dog training. I call it the “Double Leash Lock-Off.” You see me use it time and again on Lucky Dog when I’m training out of control dogs. The reason I swear by this technique is because it works SO well. Not every technique is going to work on every dog. You’re going to have a moderate success rate with most methods because not every dog is the same. Dogs are like a thumbprint. No two are alike and no two issues are the exact same so techniques are completely subjective to the pupil and what they respond to. However, this technique has been been proven time and again to be successful on probably 95% of the dogs I use it on. The best part about it is the simplicity of it. It’s not a very advanced technique but the results are very high level. Let’s break this down…
The tools you’ll need are 2 leashes (6 ft), a harness and a bag of treats. You’re going to simply harness your dog up and attach 1 leash to the harness. From there you’re going to loop the handle end of that leash around the leg of a couch or heavy table. The second leash will attach to their collar. Both leashes serve a purpose. The back leash is called the “Anchor Leash” while the front one is known as the “Guide Leash.” Now we’re geared up and locked off let’s get started…
You’ll notice when you pull the front leash it will automatically straighten your dog’s body with you so they can’t move left, right, forward or backwards. Hold a treat up in the air a couple feet away from their snout. This will set them off and most likely cause them to start lunging for it. They’ll probably put up a fight for the first few moments which is not only expected but completely normal. All you’re going to do is wait them out for the struggling to stop. The more they struggle all I want you to do is simply pull that leash towards you. This will straighten and control them even more. Wait them out. If you want to give a “Calm Down” command here it’s completely up to you but not totally necessary. Most dogs calm down after just a few seconds, some might take a little longer. When they calm down and are completely still I want you to silently count to “3” in your head. At “3” IF they’re still calm I want you to praise and reward them with the treat. DO NOT reward them if you’re about to praise them and they suddenly get out of control again. This might take a few times to get down and time correctly but it’s pretty simple when you get it. Again we’re going to repeat the process, holding the treat up, pulling the front leash if they begin to fight and lunge for it and wait for them to calm down for 3 full seconds. When they do simply reward them again. Your goal is to slowly add a little more time. Don’t go too fast when adding time. I’d recommend sessions where you do it 10 times at 3 seconds then give it a rest. Your next session you’ll do it again 10 times but make it 4 seconds. Next session add another second, and so on, and so forth. After a week or so you should be able to eliminate the leashes and simply rely on technique alone. This process is a perfect prerequisite for training other commands because now they’re controlled when learning. I wish I could sit here and explain more but that’s honestly how simple and effective this technique is. Just repeat it over and over and add time throughout the week. Boom and done!
As always the details are what’s important in the training. Let’s talk about why this is so simple. As I mentioned before an out of control dog is very difficult to train. All you did here was gain control by adding leashes to the equation. Dogs learn just like humans in many ways. They are trial and error animals that respond to conditioning and muscle memory. They learn very quickly that when they put up a fight it deny’s them getting the reward. The way they got the reward was calming down and the leashes assisted in that process. Without the leashes they’d most likely take weeks if not months to learn to calm down to get rewarded. The leashes speed the process up and make the training much more efficient. What generally happens when training a dog without a leash is they learn to outmaneuver their owner, handler or trainer and eventually that leads to a bad habit because as I just mentioned dogs are animals of conditioning and muscle memory. If you allow them to be out of control constantly they’ll condition themselves that way and they’ll grow up to be an out of control dog. They’re only responding to what you let them respond to. Leashes are key when training anything…especially when teaching control. Also I want to point out the importance of waiting a few seconds before rewarding them. If they’re putting up a fight and then calm down just for 1 second then you reward them, they’re under the impression they’re getting a treat for struggling. You have to let them calm down for a few full seconds to allow the brain to compute why they’re getting rewarded. The longer they’re calm, the more they’ll understand why they’re being rewarded. This is why I’m so adamant about waiting a FULL 3 seconds for them to be completely calm. When their body shifts the gears into park, their brain does too. From there you’re allowing the brain to absorb the information in a much more efficient manner. So just like a teacher you’ve basically put the child in their seat and at their desk in the classroom. Trust me this really is simple, you just have to do the work.
Try this on your dog. It should only take a week or so for them to get this down. Remember consistency is the key to training. Don’t do it once and assume they’re experts at it. Dog training is martial arts for dogs. Much like if you went to 1 class and learned a kick for an hour you’re not by any means a black belt. Show up to that class night after night and eventually you’ll be a force to be reckoned with. The same rules apply in dog training. There is no substitute for conditioning. It’s the number 1 way to get your dog very well trained. It’s also the number 1 reason people quit when training their dog because they realize it takes work. Keep this in mind…if you give up you’ve officially lost to a dog! Try it out and let me know how it goes. Ruff.